There was a time when I did not think the Upstate had much of a hip-hop scene, mostly because I was simply unaware of it. Not only was I completely ignorant to the existence of a scene at all, I was surprised to learn that not only do we have one, it is a far deeper talent pool than I ever could have imagined. For proof of that, look no further than the Gr8Ful promoted show at The Radio Room this Friday night that features a host of local and regional talent that you do not want to miss.
Gr8ful is the promotional identity of local artist Pauley Francisco who doubles as 888Shiva when he takes the stage. I first met Pauley at last year’s inaugural Upstate Music Awards and later spoke with him for the Artists Picking Artists series we ran during the pandemic when shows were on hiatus. That first meeting and subsequent conversation opened my eyes to one heck of a force in local hip-hop, both as a performer and a promoter. Additionally, Pauley’s picks for the Artists Picking Artists series introduced me to a great collection of talent, some of whom are in my regular listening rotation to this day.
Gr8Ful’s Friday evening show, entitled “Pure”, features Frost and 888Shiva as the headliners of the event, along with a supporting cast of six other acts. Performers include South Carolina’s own Midnightinyami, Swvnk, and Lo Indigo along with out of state guests such as Joufluu, Betti Boof, and Sixhearts. The Upstate’s own DJ Swale will also hold down the turn tables for the course of the evening.
I admit to not being totally familiar to all of the aforementioned names but I would like to speak to the ones I know best. 888Shiva is a beast on the microphone and his 2020 album F8 was one of the best releases of the year, regardless of genre. I have said this before but the album’s first single “Holy Hell” had me wanting to play it in my car at full volume with the windows down, right up until I remembered that I am 43 years old and drive a Kia. Still, the energy of the album is infectious and impossible to ignore.
As a committee member of this year’s Upstate Music Awards, I was introduced to a lot of music that was new to me and I came away with a couple of new favorites through the process. Lö Indigo instantly became one of my favorite artists on the scene when I watched the video for his single “Wasabi Flow” and the rest of the album Church of the Innocent is equally impressive from top to bottom. DJ Swale is another nominee I became an instant fan of after hearing his “Best Collaboration” nominated “Her Song” with Maxx Good$ and LA Kenzie. The chance to see these artists live and in person is no doubt an opportunity I have been looking forward to for what seems like forever since time moves slower during a pandemic, apparently.
All of this comes together for what looks to be a fascinating celebration of local hip-hop, spearheaded by one of the most devoted contributors on the scene – Pauley Francisco AKA 888Sheeva AKA Gr8Ful. Whatever you know him as, know that he is putting in the work to keep delivering solid lineups like this one every time out.